Working with an editor

July 31st, 2019
Editing is a vital part of the publishing process, whether you’re going through a publishing house or self-publishing your book. Regardless of the path you take, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you get the most out of the process – and cut down on the time it requires. 

The editing process can be daunting for the most experienced writers, and it’s important to remember that while it may feel like someone is messing with your baby, your editor really is on your side. It’s their job to make sure that your book is the best it can be and is well-positioned to be successful in the current market. 

1. First and foremost, it’s important to remember that this is a professional relationship. This can be difficult to remember because it can feel so personal, especially if your experience of being edited is limited, but it’s vital in order to ensure a positive working relationship. This means maintaining respectful communication no matter how you feel about an editorial note. This doesn’t mean that you should blindly accept every suggestion if you really feel it’s not right for your book, but it is important to take a day or two to sit with your editor’s suggestions and make sure to give them proper consideration. 

2. Self-editing is vital before you even start thinking about submitting your manuscript or commissioning a freelance editor. The more work you can do to ensure your book is publication ready, the more benefit you will get out of your editor because they won’t have to waste time pointing out the issues you could have picked up yourself. This is especially important if you’re hiring a freelancer. You can save a lot of money and get more value out of your editor if you really polish up your manuscript as much as possible first.  

 3. Pay attention to and follow submission and formatting guidelines. Really. If you’re not sure about how to do something, do a bit of research, but nothing will waste your editor’s time more than a badly formatted document. Many people don’t bother with properly reading submission instructions, so if you’re one of the ones that do you will stand out from the crowd. 

 4. Ask a lot of questions. If you’re not sure about something related to the editing or publishing process, are struggling to understand why an editorial change is being suggested or want to clarify something about the craft of storytelling or what is current in the market, don’t be afraid to ask. Your editor is your champion and your mentor through your publishing journey, so take advantage of their expertise while you can!  

Ultimately, you should approach your relationship with your editor as a long-term investment. Many successful authors will work with the same editor across multiple titles, and if you’re fortunate enough to find an editor you work well with it’s worth cultivating a solid partnership for the long haul. 
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